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Assessing farm performance by size in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda

Jacques C. Julien, Boris E. Bravo-Ureta and Nicholas E. Rada

Food Policy, 2019, vol. 84, issue C, 153-164

Abstract: Many Sub-Sahara African countries have long endured sluggish agricultural productivity growth and a farm structure dominated by smallholders. This prevailing structure has led to public policies focusing on access to land and its distribution as ways to boost agricultural supply. Drawing on data from the Living Standards Measurement Study–Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) for three East African countries (Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda), our purpose is to: test whether smaller farms in these countries are more productive than larger ones; examine how managerial performance varies with farm size; and assess how public policy may improve farm performance. We adopt the Random Parameters Stochastic Production Frontier model to estimate and then decompose Total Factor Productivity (TFP) across different farm size classes. In doing so, we test for possible measurement errors of farmer self-reported land area using Global Positioning System (GPS) data, and explore the imperfect factor markets hypothesis. The results show that across the three countries TFP is higher for smaller farms than for larger ones. Overall, managerial performance is low suggesting that programs designed to enhance managerial capacity would promote farm productivity across all sizes. Other policies are size specific. Access to agricultural input markets improves the productivity of the small farms, while greater spending on transportation infrastructure and extension services enhances the productivity of the large.

Keywords: Inverse relationship hypothesis; Random parameters stochastic production frontier; Sub-Saharan Africa; Technical efficiency; Total factor productivity (TFP) (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2018.03.016

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